Loved the Can-Am retrospective. Perfect pictures, wonderful words. But why no mention of Lothar Motschenbacher?
He was a US privateer who often troubled the front-runners in a series of customer McLarens. Back then I and my Mini-racing mate Eric Paterson elected him as our hero. There was no TV coverage, so we followed Can-Am and NASCAR via the pages of this publication and the weeklies. King Petty was, of course, our chosen sedan racing ace in his Dodge Charger Daytona.
Why did we support Lothar? Well, what a name! He could have been a super-villain in a Superman movie, but he chose to race Can-Am…
Chris John, Whitecross, Linlithgow
Moss was phenomenal
Simon Taylor’s graphic account in the August issue of his lunch with Stirling Moss reminded us once again of Stirling’s pre-eminence before his Goodwood crash. Simon described him as being “quietly pleased” with the 1961 Silverstone International Trophy — a statement which grossly understates what actually happened that day, when Stirling displayed a level of driving ability which has, in my view, probably never been surpassed.
In a field which included four world champions and, as Simon records, in atrocious weather conditions, Stirling had lapped everyone except Jack Brabham by about the halfway mark. I was in the pits grandstand and well remember the sight, every lap, of the Moss Cooper coming out of Woodcote in a peculiar slide which continued on that streaming wet track all the way up the pit straight. The first time he did it I thought ‘my God, he only just got away with that’, but he went on to replicate the performance on every subsequent lap! Sir Jack’s courageous efforts to compete with sheer genius came to an end when his car went into a phenomenal spin of umpteen rotations. Stirling lapped him soon after and went on to win the race by a lot more than ‘a country mile’.
DG Nicholas, Rubgy, Worcs
It was great to see a couple of my uncle’s cars reappearing. Jimmy Blumer drove the Rolls Royce V8-powered Andrews Special featured on page 13 of the August issue, back in 1963. Its debut was at the Easter Monday Goodwood meeting in the Lavant Cup, won by Roy Salvadori in his Cooper Monaco. I think Jimmy wished he’d stuck with his own Monaco, since the Andrews Special expired after just three laps. Next came the Aintree 200 meeting, where Jimmy and the car faired little better.
Jimmy’s final outing in the car was in August’s Guards Trophy meeting at Brands. This time the car retired with sagging oil pressure. Apparently, Rolls-Royce was not happy about one of its engines being used in racing, and the car was pushed aside.
Jimmy also co-drove Mike de Udy’s Porsche 906 featured on page 14, in the Spa 1000Km race of 1966. They retired after the gearbox failed. This was one of Jimmy’s last races, ending a career that spanned over a decade.
David Coulthard, via email
Times are a-changing
I have been intrigued by your Pomeroy Index articles on virtual lap times around Spa as it theoretically allows one to compare oneself against a whole range of exotic machinery. I would never normally presume to argue with either Laurence Pomeroy or Mark Hughes, but somewhere I think the algorithm must have gone wrong.
The fact of the matter is that with a paltry 210bhp a 1500cc ERA has done a 3.03.37 around Spa, and with very second-hand tyres, but with a more interesting 235bhp, a 3.01.87. I am therefore rather surprised that the latter in particular theoretically betters the 350bhp Alfetta 158D, a car which blew away the 1500cc ERAs away in period.
So something has happened between then and now that has produced an aberration — or the theory is wrong. I think tyres are the real aberration. All the talk in your magazine recently about technology improvements I think can be settled if the tyre manufacturers were to forego the tacky rubber currently offered and produce something so bullet-hard that we would all have to drive slower.
It is interesting to look at pictures of beautiful pre-war cars in lovely four-wheel drifts at significant slip angles. This is simply not possible with today’s tyres, and believe me I have spent 15 years trying to achieve the apparent easy sliding style of our pre-war forebears. While we clearly do slide cars today it is usually at much finer slip angles. The reality is you cannot sustain the same angle of slide unless you are driving out of control on opposite lock as the tyres are outside their operating window — unless the roads are damp!
Simply give us tyres which will return us to the balanced drifting at dramatic angles that our forbears enjoyed, which will slow us all down in the corners, place further emphasis on the skill of drivers so not change the order at the front, and make for an even more delightful spectacle than we currently enjoy.
John Ure, Brettenham, Suffolk
Fascinating though your ‘Fordissimo!’ story (Motor Sport, August 2006 ) was, perhaps it was only part of the tale. In the years immediately prior to 1966 Ferrari held off the might and millions of Ford like some latter-day David. I wonder how many of your readers remember striving to stay awake through the night to keep up with the hourly race reports on the wireless, and the tension as, one by one, cars of both sides fell by the wayside.
In 1965 the “little red car”, the 250LM of Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory, prevailed against seemingly insurmountable odds to achiev what many would class as one of motor racing’s greatest-ever victories.
If anyone should not completely understand why the name Ferrari an sight of the Covallino Rampante enjoys such charisma even today, an account of that race would surely explain.
John White, via email